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Student input should be a vital part of the social networking policy

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Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2013 12:00 am

Lodi Unified School District administrators, you made a big mistake instituting a policy without student input. News-Sentinel reporter Ross Farrow asked Dawn Vetica great questions and she failed to answer them, in my opinion. Here are a few examples:

Question 1: Was there input from students, teachers, coaches or parents?

Answer: Administrators made the policy.

Question 2: Who investigates?

Answer: School administrators or school personnel.

Question 3: What about other students not involved in extracurricular activities?

Answer: It was never answered, she just talked around the subject and brought up another policy.

Question 4: How is it determined what is “inappropriate?”

Answer: School personnel.

Question 5: Are there plans to work with concerned students?

Answer: Meet with principals and present to board.

In her answers, the students, parents and teachers are never mentioned.

This is the top-down attitude of the current LUSD administration. Where are the students who are supposed to be the center of all that is done at LUSD?

Steve Hansen also commented that there is a chance of “capricious interpretation.” Oh, how true!

Please rethink your approach, LUSD administrators, and include your charges.

Linda Stiehr

Former Lodi Unified School District educator of 32 years

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Susan Burkhardt posted at 2:06 pm on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    sjburkie Posts: 2

    I feel I need to respond to this situation, as I can completely understand how students feel these regulations violate their right to free speech, but as a graduate student in Educational Administration and Leadership, my own eyes were clearly opened after taking a few legal issues in public education courses. I will just highlight a few recent cases on how the courts have ruled on free speech issues of students, as well as what the courts believe is the responsibility that a school has in controlling behavior that is threatening, harassing or bullying and creates a hostile environment. Many students think attendance at public schools is a "right" rather than looking at it as being able to enjoy the privilege of attending school, as certain laws must be adhered to in order to maintain a non-threatening learning environment.

    I think all students, parents, teachers and administrators should be familiar with these recent rulings in the courts:
    “the common law, too, has put schools on notice that they may be held responsible under state law for their failure to protect students from the tortuous acts of third parties” (Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 1999)

    schools are responsible for “teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior” and therefore must play a role in restricting behavior and speech that is considered “highly offensive or highly threatening to others” (Bethel School District v. Fraser, 1986).

    “courts have held that school districts are allowed to intervene in situations wherein off-campus speech is clearly threatening to students or staff and therefore disruptive to the learning environment and the educational process.”( J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District 2000)

    “the primary function of a public school...is to educate its students; conduct that substantially interferes with the mission (including speech that substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance) is… disruptive to the school environment” (Saxe v. State College Area School District, 2001)

    “.. school authorities have a responsibility to prevent intimidation by one student on another—including bullying by name calling” (Sypniewski v. Warren Hills Regional Board of Education, 2002)

    And in regards to restricting student athletes:

    "participation in extracurricular activities is considered to be a privilege, not a right. As such, participants may be subject to additional or different rules than regular students. Lower courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have noted that participants in extracurricular sports, by electing to participate, subject themselves to these rules. In 1995, the Supreme Court decided a case in which it upheld drug testing for student athletes. In its opinion, the Court noted: “By choosing to ‘go out for the team,’ [student athletes] voluntarily subject themselves to a degree of regulation even higher than that imposed on students generally.” Vernonia Sch. Dist. 47J v. Acton, U.S. 646, 657 (1995)

    "a U.S. District Court in Missouri. In Hurt v. Boonville R-1 School District Case, No. 02-4267-CV-C-SOW (W.D. Mo. 2002), a high school student was not allowed to play in a basketball game because he wore his hair in a type of braid called cornrows. This style violated the team coach’s grooming policy. Though calling the rule “stupid and dumb,” the judge deciding the case found no violation of constitutional or statutory rights and said that “high school coaches have discretion and authority to impose additional requirements on student athletes.”

    The law is not black and white, but school's do have a responsibility to maintain a hostile free learning environment to ALL students, in keeping that in mind I think the district's regulations are very fitting.


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